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Erykah Badu Joins Team Banned-In-Malaysia

Singer shut out of the nation for what were deemed controversial religious tattoos

Erykah Badu arrived in Malaysia for a concert in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow… and was then promptly informed that the government of the predominantly Muslim nation had cancelled her show. The reason for the abrupt shut-down? Turns out Malaysian officials, despite their notorious efforts to censor it, use the Internet, where they discovered the above press photo of Badu, who sports (temporary, in all likelihood) tattoos. The tat of the Arabic word for Allah, among other religious symbols, was deemed objectionable. But the nation’s citizens have probably seen worse (see: the Pussycat Dolls).

According to the Associated Press (via Entertainment Weekly), “Muslim policy officials” including the country’s Information Minister issued a statement following the cancellation, declaring that the tattoos had elicited “public criticism” and were “an insult to Islam and a very serious offense,” and “could jeopardize national security and [damage] the government’s image.” No word yet why they couldn’t have told Badu prior to her getting on a plane for an entire day to the southeast Asian country, where she’s now being allowed to kick it as a tourist.

Traditionalists in the Malaysian government have had a lot of issues with international acts in the past. They managed to do a lot of banning at the beginning of the ’00s, notably Mariah Carey in 2004 for being “sexy, unacceptable, and almost vulgar,” and Linkin Park’s shorts-and-bare-chest combos in 2003 (the band was allowed to perform, but were forbidden from “shouting too loudly”), but of late, their efforts have been increasingly unsuccessful, as scandalous performers like Beyoncé and Katy Perry have slipped through their fingers to land on Malaysian stages, despite protest from Islamic parties.

As for Badu, she’s “worried and dismayed,” but this isn’t even the only reason she’s in the press today — her new contribution to Damon Albarn and Flea’s Afrobeat Rocket Juice and the Moon project just debuted and she’ll be featured on the Flaming Lips’ freaky Siri-featured Record Store Day project.